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Sufism can be seen to have functioned as a positive and healthy reaction to the overly rational activity of the philosophers and theologians. For the Sufis, the road to spiritual knowledge could never be confined to the process of purely intellectual activity, without the direct, immediate experience of the Heart. In this book we are concerned with one art that the Sufis m Sufism can be seen to have functioned as a positive and healthy reaction to the overly rational activity of the philosophers and theologians. For the Sufis, the road to spiritual knowledge could never be confined to the process of purely intellectual activity, without the direct, immediate experience of the Heart. In this book we are concerned with one art that the Sufis made peculiarly their own: poetry. Why should Sufis in general, and Persian Sufis in particular, choose to write poetry? When they wanted to 'be themselves', lovers of the Truth, they needed a language more intense, closer to the centre of human awareness than prose. Truth is beautiful, so when one speaks of it, one speaks beautifully. As the lover sings to his beloved, so did the Sufis to theirs. Love itself creates a taste for this language, so that even the prose writers of Sufism scatter verse throughout their works and create poetic prose. The overwhelming theme of this poetry is the Love relationship between the individual, the lover, and his Beloved, God.


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Sufism can be seen to have functioned as a positive and healthy reaction to the overly rational activity of the philosophers and theologians. For the Sufis, the road to spiritual knowledge could never be confined to the process of purely intellectual activity, without the direct, immediate experience of the Heart. In this book we are concerned with one art that the Sufis m Sufism can be seen to have functioned as a positive and healthy reaction to the overly rational activity of the philosophers and theologians. For the Sufis, the road to spiritual knowledge could never be confined to the process of purely intellectual activity, without the direct, immediate experience of the Heart. In this book we are concerned with one art that the Sufis made peculiarly their own: poetry. Why should Sufis in general, and Persian Sufis in particular, choose to write poetry? When they wanted to 'be themselves', lovers of the Truth, they needed a language more intense, closer to the centre of human awareness than prose. Truth is beautiful, so when one speaks of it, one speaks beautifully. As the lover sings to his beloved, so did the Sufis to theirs. Love itself creates a taste for this language, so that even the prose writers of Sufism scatter verse throughout their works and create poetic prose. The overwhelming theme of this poetry is the Love relationship between the individual, the lover, and his Beloved, God.

30 review for The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jon Stout

    This anthology of Sufi poetry shows an imaginative and mystical side of Islam little recognized in current political discussion or in the scientific and philosophical history that I have read. The closest point of familiar contact might be the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, yet this anthology displays a much greater variety of styles. Though the poetry is said to be Persian, the poets are from all corners of the Moslem world, from India to Moorish Spain. The imagery and feeling are beautiful and make This anthology of Sufi poetry shows an imaginative and mystical side of Islam little recognized in current political discussion or in the scientific and philosophical history that I have read. The closest point of familiar contact might be the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, yet this anthology displays a much greater variety of styles. Though the poetry is said to be Persian, the poets are from all corners of the Moslem world, from India to Moorish Spain. The imagery and feeling are beautiful and make me feel that, if I were Muslim, I would want to be a Sufi. The emotions portrayed are sometimes disconcerting. The relationship between human and God is often portrayed as the relationship between lover and beloved, with the emphasis on the intense passion of the lover’s wanting to be at one with the beloved. The relationship is also sometimes reversed, with the human acted upon by divine passion. And throughout all of this is the theme of the unity of lover and beloved, human and divine. What I find disconcerting is the self-effacing and all-consuming character of the lover’s passion for the beloved. This would seem troubling in a human relationship, in which one might wish for some self-possession, if not equality and reciprocity. And, to my perhaps Puritan ear, it sounds strange related to the love of God. But the intensity of the passion comes through, and and makes me realize that if one can be obsessive about the idols in one’s life, then one can also be obsessive about the God of gods. The imagery is striking and beautiful, with soaring eagles and starry skies, racing horses and drunken nightingales. Many stories of ordinary life are rendered luminous, somewhat in the way of parables. Throughout it all is the feeling of awe and wonder.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David John

    Peter Lamborn Wilson (AKA 'Hakim Bey, and 'Ontological Anarchy') and Nasrollah Pourjavady carefully selected and translated arguably the very best of Persian mystical verse to exhibit the long spiritual journey of a Sufi dervish in the quest of union with and annihilation in God. Those even faintly acquainted with Middle-Eastern poetry will recognize some of the star names in this volume, which include Ahmad Ghazali, Ahmad Jami, Attar, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Nezami, Rumi, and Shirazi amongst others. Peter Lamborn Wilson (AKA 'Hakim Bey, and 'Ontological Anarchy') and Nasrollah Pourjavady carefully selected and translated arguably the very best of Persian mystical verse to exhibit the long spiritual journey of a Sufi dervish in the quest of union with and annihilation in God. Those even faintly acquainted with Middle-Eastern poetry will recognize some of the star names in this volume, which include Ahmad Ghazali, Ahmad Jami, Attar, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Nezami, Rumi, and Shirazi amongst others. It is certainly the sort of anthology of cosmological views which can potentially influence the course of one's life. One extract: "You must take these poems as mirrors; for you know that a mirror has no form of itself, but rather reflects the face of anyone who looks in it. Just so, a poem has no one particular meaning of itself, but presents to each reader his state at the moment and the completeness of his case. Now if you were to object that a poem does indeed have a single particular meaning, namely that its various readers simply make up some arbitrary meaning of their own, then I should reply that the form of the mirror is the form of the mirror maker. For was he not the first person whose face it reflected?" - Ayn al-Qozat Hamadani. And so it is that in reading, contemplating and reflecting upon these verses that the reader glimpses his own state of mind and affairs. It is really an invitation to open a door through which is the view of another world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Vital translations of Sufi poetry, heady like the damnable wog hemp, subtle as twilight, enriching and heart-expanding.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a good introduction to the Sufi poets. Most readers familiar with Islamic poetry probably know Rumi, but there are many others besides him. This anthology groups poems by topics that speak to our inner emotional selves; "Leaving this World Behind", "The Secret: The First Meeting", "Awakening", "Transcendence and Paradox", et. al. Note these are translations of the original poems from Persian to English. I can hardly imagine the talent and work required to make an accurate translation, but This is a good introduction to the Sufi poets. Most readers familiar with Islamic poetry probably know Rumi, but there are many others besides him. This anthology groups poems by topics that speak to our inner emotional selves; "Leaving this World Behind", "The Secret: The First Meeting", "Awakening", "Transcendence and Paradox", et. al. Note these are translations of the original poems from Persian to English. I can hardly imagine the talent and work required to make an accurate translation, but even more so to keep the poem's ability to move one emotionally. I have often wondered why poetry and literature is so different in its metaphysical character and so highly regarded by speakers of languages originating in the Near East, in comparison to our own culture. I may be naive, but I believe it is because Near Eastern cultures were nomadic for most of their existence and therefore poetry and literature was oral in nature for thousands of years. Finally, I wanted to mention my favorite poem in the book, "The Spilled Cup" by Mahmud Shabestari. I recommend listening to the spoken performance of this poem by Sussan Deyhim at http://youtu.be/hpbiD1gaj58. She is a famous singer and dancer from Iran. I have her CD, "Madman of God". She also performed on the soundtrack of "Argo". Her performance of "The Spilled Cup" is on Bill Laswell's album "Hashisheen - The End of the Law", about the notorious lord of assassins, Hassan i Sabbah. I will stop this review here, and let you discover Sabbah's history yourself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ivan Granger

    One of my favorite collections of the Persian Sufi poets, some you may have heard of and others who may be new to you: Jami, Attar, Hamadani, Iraqi, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, and many others. If you like Sufi poetry, this is a book you should have. My hearing, sight, my tongue and hand: all He. Then I am not, for all that is, is He. I think I am, and thought is but a dream. When I awake, all that remains is He. - Baba Afzal Kashini Table of Contents Introduction Prologue Leaving this World Behind The Secre One of my favorite collections of the Persian Sufi poets, some you may have heard of and others who may be new to you: Jami, Attar, Hamadani, Iraqi, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, and many others. If you like Sufi poetry, this is a book you should have. My hearing, sight, my tongue and hand: all He. Then I am not, for all that is, is He. I think I am, and thought is but a dream. When I awake, all that remains is He. - Baba Afzal Kashini Table of Contents Introduction Prologue Leaving this World Behind The Secret: The First Meeting Awakening Transcendence and Paradox Separation and Sadness Love and the Lover Passing Away Union Joy The Perfect Man Sources of the Poems Bio-bibliographies

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This book really tries, and succeeds to a great degree, in conveying the essence of Sufism, and particularly of Sufi poetry. But as nodozejoze recently said to me, "Sufi poetry doesn't do much for me. I think you have to know Persian for it to really strike home." I was also expecting it to be a little more "juicy" since Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) is one of the editor/translators. [T]he first step on the Path is to begin to contemplate the futility of the world of dust, the world in whi This book really tries, and succeeds to a great degree, in conveying the essence of Sufism, and particularly of Sufi poetry. But as nodozejoze recently said to me, "Sufi poetry doesn't do much for me. I think you have to know Persian for it to really strike home." I was also expecting it to be a little more "juicy" since Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) is one of the editor/translators. [T]he first step on the Path is to begin to contemplate the futility of the world of dust, the world in which one's lower self is doomed. The seeker must renounce it all, including his own self, and seek that which is Everlasting. He must travel from things to Nothing, from existence to Nonexistence. How does one get lost on purpose? Our present state is one of forgetfulness toward the Divine—the true Self—and remembrance of worldly affairs and the lower self. The cure for this is a reversal: remembrance of the true Self, the Divine within, and forgetfulness toward everything else. (40) Quatrain by Binavi Badakhshani (p. 95) I became water and saw myself a mirage became an ocean saw myself a speck of foam gained Awareness saw that all is but forgetfulness woke up and found myself asleep. Quatrain by 'Ayn al-Qozat Hamadani He Who splashed a thousand worlds with color How can He buy the paint of "I and thou"? Colors, colors—nothing but whim and fantasy; HE is colorless, and one must adopt his hue. (98) From Lord of the Haram by Fo'ad Kermani (pp. 113-4) Divine Essence is beyond thought. So cut this philosophic guff: our minds can never grasp nor eyes perceive that absolute Absolute— so when it comes to this the brain is mired and boggled in bewilderment and the foot of perception stuck in the door. Even the Universal intellect cannot comprehend his Essence so how can these paltry flecks of gray matter compete? No one gets to the Essence except the Essence. Only through His Power do things attain permanence. How can that-which-does-not-exist reach the Absolute?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pieter-Jan Beyul

    True Sufi poetry that, just by reading, alters your state of consciousness. It shifts nicely between simple and more complex pieces. As any good anthology, it's something you'll want to revisit and rediscover time and time again to get back into that mystical bewilderment ( or drunkenness ). The editors also provided very elucidating commentary on the poems and poets, plus a concise but interesting introduction with a treatment of the context and history of Persian poetry and its marriage with Suf True Sufi poetry that, just by reading, alters your state of consciousness. It shifts nicely between simple and more complex pieces. As any good anthology, it's something you'll want to revisit and rediscover time and time again to get back into that mystical bewilderment ( or drunkenness ). The editors also provided very elucidating commentary on the poems and poets, plus a concise but interesting introduction with a treatment of the context and history of Persian poetry and its marriage with Sufism. Definitely one to have around if you want to get yourself familiar with Sufi poetry and its known and lesser-known maestros.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lizy

    I thought this book had a good sampling of poetry, but I couldn't stand the italicized font all the poems were in and couldn't grasp quite a few of the poems. It's possible I just don't have the cultural background to understand the references, though.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    I've always been interested in Sufism, and I found this book in the bargain section and bought it on a whim. Should be fun and enlightening to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    This is an excellent overview of Sufi poetry and gives some clues to those who may be less familiar with Islam traditions and imagery. I found it so very helpful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sean A.

    ranged from two or three to five stars depending on the poem. i'm not even a particularly spiritual person, but some of these at their best really did it for me.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda Jaffier

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jon Graham

  14. 5 out of 5

    Don Moorman

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mortaza Rezwani

  16. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Ferringo

  18. 5 out of 5

    mark mendoza

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrick M.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shuuya

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charles Parrent

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matvei

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Shane

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angela Rafei

  25. 4 out of 5

    squid mud

  26. 5 out of 5

    Itwaslost

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah N. Dipity

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aisha Abbas

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rania Benhallam

  30. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad A

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